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I believe, that as God entered into a covenant of grace with us, so hath he signed this covenant to us by a double seal, baptism and the Lord’s supper.
As the covenant of works had two sacraments, viz. ‘the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil;’ the first signifying and sealing life and happiness to the performance, the other death and misery to the breach of it: so the covenant of grace was likewise sealed with two typical sacraments, circumcision and the passover. The former was annexed at God’s first making his covenant with Abraham’s person; the other was added, at his fulfilling the promises of it, to his seed or posterity, which were therefore styled, ‘the promised seed.’ But these being only typical of the true and spiritual sacraments, that were afterwards to take place upon the coming of the Messiah, there were then, ‘in the fulness of time,’ two other sacraments substituted in their stead, viz. baptism and the supper of the Lord. And these sacraments were both correspondent to the types by which they were represented.
As to the first, viz. circumcision, whether I consider the time of conferring it, or the end of its institution, I find it exactly answers to the sacrament of baptism in both these respects. For, as the children under the law were to be circumcised in their infancy, at eight days old; so are the children under the gospel to be baptized in their infancy 83too. And as the principal thing intended in the rite of circumcision, was to initiate or admit the children of the faithful into the Jewish church, so the chief design of baptism now, is to admit the children of such as profess themselves Christians, into the church of Christ. And, for this reason, I believe. that as, under the Old Testament, children had the grant of covenant privileges, and church-membership, as really as their parents had; so this grant was not repealed, as is intimated,130130 Acts, ii. 39. but further confirmed in the New Testament, in that the apostle calls the children of believing parents holy.131131 1 Cor. vii. 14. Which cannot be understood of a real and inherent, but only of a relative and covenanted holiness, by virtue of which, being born of believing parents, themselves are accounted in the number of believers, and are therefore called holy children under the gospel, in the same sense that the people of Israel were called a holy people under the law,132132 Deut. vii. 6, and xiv. 2, 21. as being all within the covenant of grace, which, through the faith of their parents, is thus sealed to them in baptism.
Not that I think it necessary, that all parents should be endued with what we call a saving faith, to entitle their children to these privileges (for then none but the children of such who have the Spirit of Christ truly implanted in them, would be qualified to partake of the covenant) but even such, who by an outward historical faith have taken the name of Christ upon them, are by that means in covenant with God, and so accounted holy in respect of their profession, whatever they may be in point of practice. 84And if they are themselves holy, it follows of course, that their children must be so too, they being esteemed as parts of their parents, till made distinct members in the body of Christ, or, at least, till they come to the use of their reason, and the improvement of their natural abilities.
And therefore, though the seal be changed, yet the covenant privileges, wherewith the parties stipulating unto God were before invested, are no whit altered or diminished; believers children being as really confederates with their parents, in the covenant of grace now, as they were before under the .Jewish administration of it. And this seems to be altogether necessary; for otherwise, infants should he invested with privileges under the type, and be deprived of, or excluded from them, under the more perfect accomplishment of the same covenant in the thing typified; and so the dispensations of God’s grace would be more strait and narrow since, than they were before the coming of our Saviour, which I look upon to be no less than blasphemy to assert.
And, upon this ground, I believe, it is as really the duty of Christians to baptize their children now, as ever it was the duty of the Israelites to circumcise theirs; and therefore St. Peter’s question, ‘Can any man forbid water, that these should not he baptized, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?’133133 Acts, x. 47. may very properly be applied to this case. Can any man forbid water, that children should not be baptized, who are in covenant with the most high God as well as we? For what is it, I pray, that the right to baptism doth depend 85upon? Surely, not upon performing the conditions of the covenant; for then none shall be baptized, but such as are true believers in themselves, and known to be so by us, and, by consequence, none at all; it being only God’s prerogative to search their hearts, and to know the truth of that grace, which himself hath been pleased to bestow upon them. But children’s right to baptism is grounded upon the outward profession of their believing parents; so that as a king may be crowned in his cradle, not because he is able to wield the sceptre, or manage the affairs of his kingdom, but because he is heir to his father: so here, children are not therefore baptized because they are able to perform the conditions of the covenant, which is sealed to them, but because they are children to believing parents. And this seems yet to be further evident, from the very nature of seals, which are not administered or annexed to any covenant, because the conditions are already performed, but rather that they may be performed; and so children are not baptized because they are already true Christians, but that they may be so hereafter.
As for a command for infant baptism, I believe, that the same law that enjoined circumcision to the Jewish, enjoins baptism likewise to Christian children, there being the same reason for both. The reason why the Jewish children were to be circumcised, was because they were Jewish children, horn of such as professed the true worship of God, and were in covenant with him; and there is the same reason why Christian children are to be baptized, even because they are Christian children, born of such as profess the true worship of the. same God, and are confederates in the same covenant 86with the Jews themselves. And, as there is the same reason, so likewise the same end for both, viz. that the children might be actually admitted into the same covenant with their parents, and have it visibly confirmed to them by this initiating seal put upon them: so that circumcision and baptism are not two distinct seals, but the same seal diversely applied; the one being but as a type of the other, and so to give place to it, whensoever, by the institution of Christ, it should be brought into the church of God. And therefore, the command for initiating children into the church by baptism, remains still in force, though circumcision, which was the type and shadow of it, be done away. And for this reason, I believe, that was there never a command in the New Testament for infant baptism, yet, seeing there is one for circumcision in the Old, and for baptism, as coming into the place of it, in the New, I should look upon baptism as necessarily to be applied to infants now, as circumcision was then.
But why should it be supposed, that there is no command in the New Testament for infant baptism? There are several texts that seem to imply its being practised in the first preaching of the gospel, as particularly in the case of Lydia and the keeper of the prison,134134 Acts, xvi. 15, 33. who had their whole families baptized, and we no where find that children were excepted. On the contrary, St. Peter exhorting the converted Jews to be baptized, makes use of this argument to bring them to it: ‘For the promise,’ says he, ‘is unto you, and to your children,’135135 Acts, ii. 38, 39. which may as reasonably be understood of their infants, 87as of their adult posterity. But, besides, it was the express command of Christ to his disciples, that they should ‘go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’136136 Matt. xxviii. 19. The meaning of which words I take to be this; go ye, and preach the gospel among all nations, and endeavour thereby to bring them over to the embracing of it; that, leaving all Jewish ceremonies and heathenish idolatries, they may profess my name, and become my disciples, receive the truth, and follow me; which, if they do, I charge you to ‘baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost;’ for the word matheteusate doth not signify to teach, but to make disciples, denoting the same here, that mathetas poiein doth upon the like occasion.137137 John, ix. 1.
And this is the sense that all the ancient translations agree in: nor, indeed, will the text itself bear any other; especially, not that of teaching; for, though the apostles should have taught all nations, yet they were not presently to baptize them unless they became disciples, and professors of the , doctrine that they were taught. A man may be taught the doctrine of the gospel, and yet not believe it; and even though he should believe, yet unless he openly profess his faith in it, he ought not presently to be baptized. For, without this outward profession, the very professing of Christ cannot entitle a man to this privilege before men, though it doth before God; because we cannot know how any one stands affected towards Christ, but only by his outward profession of him. It is the inward profession of Christ’s person that entitles 88us to the inward spiritual grace: but it is the outward profession of his name only, that entitles us to the outward visible sign in baptism: so that a man must, of necessity, be a professed disciple of the gospel, before he can be admitted into the church of Christ. And hence it is, that the words must necessarily be understood of discipling, or bringing the nations over to the profession of the Christian religion; or else we must suppose, what ought not to be granted, that our Saviour must command many that were visible enemies to his cross, to be received into his church; for many of the Jews were taught and instructed in the doctrine of the gospel, who, notwithstanding, were inveterate enemies unto Christ. They were taught that he was the Messiah, and Saviour of the world, and that ‘whosoever believed in him should not perish but have everlasting life;’ and they had all the reason in the world to be convinced of it: yet, I hope, there is none will say, that the bare knowledge of; or tacit assent unto these things, are a sufficient ground for their reception into the church.
Now, as it was in the Jewish church, when any one became a proselyte, not only himself, but whatsoever children he had, were to be circumcised; so in the church of Christ, whensoever any person is brought over into the profession of the Christian religion, his seed are equally invested with the outward privileges of it with himself, though they be not as yet come to years of discretion, nor able; of themselves, to make their profession of that religion they are to be received and baptized into. For, so long as children are in their infancy, they are (as I before observed) looked upon as parts of their parents, and are therefore accounted holy, by the 89outward profession which their parents, under whom they are comprehended, make of it; and in this sense, ‘the unbelieving husband’ is said to be ‘sanctified by the believing wife, and the unbelieving wife by the believing husband;’138138 1 Cor. vii. 14. that is, man and wife being made one flesh, they are denominated, from the better part holy, and so are their children too.
And hence it is, that I verily believe, that in the commission which our Saviour gave to his apostles, to ‘disciple and baptize all nations,’ he meant, that they should preach the gospel in all nations, and thereby bring over all persons of understanding and discretion to the profession of his name, and in them, their children; and to ingraft both root and branch into himself, the true vine, by baptizing both parents and children in the ‘name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.’
The main objection against this is, that infants are not in a capacity either to learn and understand their duty in this covenant, or to stipulate, and promise for their future performance of the conditions of it. But this difficulty is easily removed, when I consider, that it is not by virtue of their own faith and knowledge, but that of their parents; that they are admitted to this sacrament; nor is it required that they should stipulate or promise in their own persons, but by their god-fathers or sponsors, who enter into this engagement for them, and oblige them, when they come to age, to take it upon themselves; which accordingly they do. And this engagement by prosy, does as effectually bind them to the performance of the conditions, as if they were actually in a capacity to 90have stipulated for themselves, or sealed the covenant in their own persons. For these spiritual signs or seals are not designed to make God’s word surer to us, but only to make our faith stronger in him; nor are they of the substance of the covenant, but only for the better confirmation of it.
And, as baptism thus comes in the place of the Jews’ circumcision, so doth our Lord’s supper answer to their passover. Their paschal lamb represented our Saviour Christ, and the sacrificing it the shedding of his blood upon the cross; and as the passover was the memorial of the Israelites’ redemption from Egypt’s bondage,139139 Exod. xii. 14. so is the Lord’s supper the memorial of our redemption from the slavery of sin, and assertion into Christian liberty; or rather, it is a solemn and lively representation of the death of Christ and offering it again to God, as an atonement for sin, and reconciliation to his favour.
So that, I believe, this sacrament of the Lord’s supper under the gospel, succeeds to the rite of sacrificing under the law; and is properly called the Christian sacrifice, as representing the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. And the end of both is the same: for, as the sacrifices under the law were designed as a propitiation or ‘atonement for sins,’ by transferring the punishment from the offerer to the thing offered, which is therefore called ‘the accursed thing.’140140 Lev. xvii. 11. So, under the gospel, we are told, that it was for this end that our Saviour died, and suffered in our stead, that he might obtain the pardon of our sins, and reconcile us to his Father, by laying the guilt of them upon his own person. And accordingly, he says of himself, that ‘he came to give 91his life a ransom for many.’141141 Matt. xx. 28. And St. Paul tells us, that ‘he was made sin for us, who knew no sin.’142142 2 Cor. v. 21.
And as the end of both institutions was the same, so they were both equally extended. The paschal lamb was ordered for all the congregation of Israel, and so is the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to be administered to all the faithful people in Christ, that do not exclude themselves from it. And for this reason, I believe, that as all the congregation of Israel was to eat the passover, so is all the society of Christians to receive the Lord’s supper; those only to be excepted, who are altogether ignorant of the nature of that covenant it seals, or openly and scandalously guilty of the breach of the conditions it requires.
But why, say some, should there be any exception? Did not Christ die for all mankind? And is not that death said to be a ‘full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world?’ All this is true, but it does not from hence follow, that all men must be actually saved and absolved from their sins, by virtue of his death. No, it is only they who apply to themselves the merit of his passion, by partaking duly of this holy sacrament, which is the proper means by which these blessings are conveyed to us, ‘whereby we are sealed to the day of redemption.’ I say, duly, because though this sacrament was ordained for all, yet all will not make themselves worthy of it; and those that are not so, are so far from reaping any benefit from it, that, as the apostle says, ‘they eat and drink their own damnation, not discerning the Lord’s body,’143143 1 Cor. xi. 29.92And therefore, I believe, that as in the institution of the passover there were some particular duties and ceremonies enjoined for the better solemnization of it; so there are some preparatory duties and qualifications necessarily required for the celebration of the Lord’s supper, which, before I presume to partake of it, I must always use my utmost endeavours to exercise myself in. And these are,
First, That I should examine, confess, and bewail my sins before God, with a true sense of, and sorrow for them; and taking firm resolutions for the time to come, utterly to relinquish and forsake them, solemnly engage myself in a new and truly Christian course of life.
Secondly, That I should he in perfect charity with all men; e. that I should heartily forgive those who have any ways injured or offended me; and make restitution or satisfaction to such whom I have, in any respect, injured or offended myself.
Thirdly, That I should, with an humble and obedient heart, exercise the acts of faith, and love, and devotion, during the celebration of that holy mystery; and express the sense I have of this mystery; by devout praises and thanksgivings for the great mercies and favours that God vouchsafes to me therein; and by all the ways and measures of charity that he has prescribed, manifest my love and beneficence to my Christian brethren.
These are the proper graces, this the wedding-garment that every true Christian, who comes to be a guest at this holy supper, ought to be clothed and invested with.
“Do thou, O blessed Jesus, adorn me with this holy robe, and inspire my soul with such heavenly qualities and dispositions as these; and then 93I need not fear, but that as ‘oft as I eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood,’ I shall effectually obtain the pardon and remission of my sins, the sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit, and a certain interest in the kingdom of glory.”
See further, Treatise of the Sacrament.
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